ARTS & CULTURE

Examining The All Too Overlooked Art Of The Lost Pet Poster

03/27/2015 10:44 am ET | Updated Mar 27, 2015

It's not all that often that regular folks -- read: non-artists -- decide to draw, photograph or even collage an impromptu art piece, reaching into the depths of their souls for inspiration, and plaster them throughout the public realm for all to see, interpret and act on.

We're talking about lost pet posters, the peculiar breed of artwork that turns the most non-artistic of pet owners into creative adventurers almost instantaneously. The genre obviously arises only in the most heartbreaking of circumstances, thus prompting unlikely pet owners into some spontaneous soul searching and creative expression. They're bizarre, handmade forms of public communication, intensely personal and yet all so alike.

joey

Fifteen years ago, Canadian artist (and animal lover) Ian Phillips became fascinated with the ephemeral paper artworks, which retained their prevalence even in an increasingly digital age. He collected lost pet posters from around the world, pleading for wayfaring dogs, cats, hamsters, ferrets, parrots, cows, and cockatiels. Compiled into a book titled "Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World," the posters are at once desperate, sweet, heart-wrenching and honest. They can be funny and sometimes, quite bizarre. And, in nearly all cases, they're painfully adorable.

The Princeton Architectural Press, due to popular demand, has issued a Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the cult classic, which remains as aww-inducing as ever. Images intended to ensure the safety of Gummo, Ginger, Jerry and Bo become works of folk art in their own right, showing how dark instances can occasionally spark hope, community and creativity in us all.

  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
  • Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.

Also on HuffPost:

  • Utagawa Kunisada II (1823–1880), Kashiwagi from the series The False Murasaki's Rustic Genji, 1848–54. Color woodblock print; 22 3/8 x 36 7/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833–1904), The Story of Otomi and Yosaburō, 1860. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), The Enlightenment of Daruma from an untitled series known as Sketches by Yoshitoshi, 1882. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864), Cat and Beauty from the series Beauties in New Styles Dyed to Order, 1818–30. Color woodblock print; 36 7/8 x 22 3/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kunimaro (active ca. 1850-75), A Brief History of the Buddha Dainichi Disguised as Otake, 1849. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828–1887), Popular Hotspring Spa [of Cats], 1880. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), Looking Tiresome: The Appearance of a Virgin of the Kansei Era from the series Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners, 1888. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kunisada II (1823–1880), No. 36, Kashiwagi from the series Lady Murasaki's Genji Cards, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864), The Actor Onoe Kikugorō III as Kayanoya Kanpei, 1833. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), Sixth Month: Fukusuke of Shinbashi with Morning Glories at Iriya from the series of Pride of Tokyo’s Twelve Months, 1880. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828 – 1887), Newly Published Applications for Cats, ca. 1868–1912. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy of Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Chrysanthemums from the series Eight Selected Flowers from the Garden, 1844–48. Color woodblock print, 16 x 22 ½ inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Parody of Umegae Striking the Bell of Limitless [Hell] from the series Fashionable Cat Games, 1848–54. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III; 1786–1865), Beloved Concubine Kochō, Her Maid Okoma, and Narushima Tairyō, 1853. Color woodblock print; 22 3/8 x 36 7/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.
  • Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889), A True Picture of the Fierce Live Tiger Never Seen from the Past to the Present, 1860. Color woodblock print; 14 x 9 ¾ inches. Courtesy Ronin Gallery, New York.
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS